Monday, March 30, 2015

Morman* (for Mormon*)

Recently a job posting arrived in my email box. It read in part: "The work involves responsibility for entry level professional librarian duties. Employees in this class are expected to learn the specific applications of professional training by the performance of cuties under the supervision of professional librarians in higher level positions..." (You know, I'm not really looking for employment at the moment, but I'd love to see that job performance!) Unfortunately, I couldn't find any typos worth mentioning for either the one here or its intended word, so we'll have to go with Morman* today instead. One librarian who was a definite cutie, and one who also performed her duties—and then some—was Ina Coolbrith, dubbed the "Sweet Singer of California." Coolbrith, born in 1841 and the niece of LDS founder Joseph Smith Jr., had moved with her mother from Illinois to California to escape Mormonism as a young girl. She found work as a librarian in Oakland and San Francisco, for the Bohemian Club and the Mercantile Library Association, but her true calling was poetry. She was the first California Poet Laureate, as well as the first poet laureate in the nation. Coolbrith garnered the respect of Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce, John Muir, Bret Harte, Charles Warren Stoddard, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Adah Menken, and other well-known California artists. Muir once sent her a box of cherries, suggesting she apply for the job of librarian at the San Francisco library, a position that had just been vacated by John Vance Cheney. Coolbrith thanked him for "the fruit of your land, and the fruit of your brain," but added: "No, I cannot have Mr. Cheney's place. I am disqualified by sex." (San Francisco insisted at the time that their librarians be men.) Coolbrith's librarian days were not especially rewarding ones. She got paid less than a man, and was ultimately fired from the Oakland Free Library, where a trustee was quoted as saying, "We need a librarian not a poet." Coolbrith mentored both Jack London and Isadora Duncan as children. In her autobiography, Duncan mentions that Coolbrith had always been pleased with her book choices, and admits she didn't find out till much later that the poet was also apparently the great love of her married father's life. Jack London called her his "literary mother." Tragically, much of Coolbrith's writing and personal papers were destroyed in the San Francisco earthquake and subsequent fire; it seems she only managed to save her cat. However, her many friends and supporters came to her aid and did what they could to ensure her legacy nonetheless. The book Ina Coolbrith: The Bittersweet Song of California's First Poet Laureate, by Aleta George, was just released last month. There were 147 cases of Morman* in OhioLINK, and "too many records found for your search" in WorldCat. Some of these, you should note, might be properly rendered foreign names and words, or antiquated spellings. Consider searching on both truncated terms (Morman* + Mormon*) to limit your results.

(Portrait photograph of Ina Coolbrith, taken in San Francisco at the Louis Thors studio, approximately 1871, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, March 27, 2015

Berrr* (for Berry, Berries, etc.)

Just this week, the most charming book appeared on my office shelf for series questions.  Jacob Biggle’s The Biggle Berry Book: Small Fruit Facts from Bud to Box Conserved into Understandable Form constitutes part of the Biggle Farm Library, and it’s jam-packed (terrible pun intended) with vintage photographs and color plates, as well as a plenitude of advice about berry cultivation.  The book was first published in 1894, and this tiny excerpt demonstrates just how passionate Mr. Biggle was about his fruits:

The only just and true way for an honorable and manly man is to grow them, and let everybody about the place have all he can eat. For the berry comes from the garden to the table in tempting and presentable shape, fit to grace the table of a king.

That’s pretty much how I feel about raspberries.  As a mostly unsuccessful grower, I was inspired to order this book for my personal collection and am planning to give it another try this year.  However, don’t even get me started about rhubarb!

Perhaps you detest rotten Berrr*-ies and will feel inspired to weed them out of your catalog.  Today’s typo appears 3 times in OhioLINK and 104 in WorldCat.

(Raspberries, by Fir0002/Flagstaffotos, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sprng* (for Spring, etc.)

I always know that Spring isn’t far away when I begin hearing the calls of a tree frog named for the season. That would be the Spring Peeper, or Pseudacris crucifer. The genus name designates this little guy as a “chorus frog,” which you can totally understand if you’ve ever encountered an entire woods full of them. (Check out their song at the Arkansas Frogs and Toads site.) My only question is this: if it’s a chorus, how do they decide who conducts?

Depending on where you live, you may find that Spring is about as scarce as its counterpart typo Sprng*. There is a lone entry in the OhioLINK database, and only 135 in WorldCat.

(Spring Peeper, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Friday, March 20, 2015

Souix (for Sioux)

Today marks the birthday of Amanda Clement, the first woman paid to umpire a baseball game. The exact year isn't known, but it was around 1903 to 1905, when Amanda was about sixteen years old, a time when most women could neither dream of playing ball, nor even leaning in. Clement was born in Hudson, South Dakota, in 1888, and grew up next door to the town ballpark. She wasn't allowed to play with the boys, but she was permitted to referee their games. Proving to be quite talented at it, "Mandy" was quickly discovered and before long had begun working in the semi-professional leagues. She was billed as the "World Champion Woman Umpire," a fact that South Dakota Magazine dryly points out "was somewhat true since she was surely the only one." But Clement was more than a tomboyish curiosity. She also taught physical education, managed YWCAs, organized various sports teams, coached basketball, and set a world record for a female throwing a baseball (279 feet). She claimed that her sex seemed to make the players more courteous; a "no-nonsense Congregationalist," she was reported to be "death on balls and strikes." According to the magazine: "After Amanda returned to Hudson to care for her sick mother in 1929, she still found time to be city assessor, justice of the peace, police matron, drug store clerk, and typesetter for the local newspaper." I was recently talking to someone about the derivation of the phrase "to paddle one's own canoe." (I'm voting for Louisa May Alcott.) Whoever it was who said it, though, Clement definitely did it, both figuratively and possibly literally. (She once pulled a drowning man from the Mississippi River.) Umpire in a Skirt: the Amanda Clement Story tells the tale of this feminist forerunner. As one Amazon reviewer wrote: "Modern young people have little conception of what life was like for women at the turn of the last century. Thanks to groundbreakers like Amanda Clement, attitudes toward women have changed. Marilyn Kratz brings this era to life in an inspiring and entertaining story about this spunky, memorable heroine." Amanda spent the second half of her life in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where she died in 1971. Souix (for Sioux) was found four times in OhioLINK, and 188 times in WorldCat.

(Amanda E. Clement, courtesy of South Dakota Magazine and Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Estauri*, Estaury (for Estuari* and Estuary)

An estuary, says Wikipedia, is "a partly enclosed coastal body of brackish water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea." It's also a word that has a lot of vowels in it ("... and sometimes Y!"), with each one pronounced individually. I'm not sure whether that fact adds or subtracts to its likelihood as a typo, but an A-U combo is certainly more common than a U-A one. As a matter of fact, I just met a young man named Raurri who tells me that his Irish name was originally supposed to be Ruarri, but the hospital staff wrote it down wrong on his birth certificate. So apparently, it's an easy switch to make, but at least he got to go home with the right parents. For our part, we got four hits on Estauri* in OhioLINK, and 125 in WorldCat (along with 26 for Estaury).

(The Hudson at the Tappan Zee, by Francis Augustus Silva, 1876, courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum and Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, March 16, 2015

Libray (for Library)

Libraries have long been known for being places of quietude: there's no yelling, shouting, screaming, or braying allowed. (Only an "ass" would say otherwise.) Another hoary stereotype about our profession is that librarians wear "comfortable shoes." So perhaps then the most appropriate footwear for library patrons and workers alike should be Hush Puppies, seemingly named for the relative lack of noise such suede-covered, soft-soled flats make when walked in. Though the actual back-story is more interesting than that. James Gaylord Muir, the brand's first sales manager, was dining with a regional sales rep and asked about the derivation of the word hushpuppies, which are a deep-fried southern delicacy. The man informed him that farmers used to toss these corn balls to the braying hounds in order to "quiet their barking dogs." Since "barking dogs" was also vernacular for sore feet, Muir realized he had suddenly found his brand name! Today's typo (seeing as how I just made it today myself) is one of "highest probability" on the Ballard list, probably in part because it's easy to make, but mainly because the word library appears so often in library records. There were sixteen cases discovered in OhioLINK, and an amazing 1321 in WorldCat.

(Hush Puppies casual leather shoe, 18 January 2010, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, March 13, 2015

Fooot* (for Foot*)

On March 13, 2003, the oldest human footprints were found in Italy. The fossilized prints were preserved in ash on the Roccamonfina volcano and show that these people walked upright, occasionally steadying themselves with their hands as they scrambled down the side of the active volcano. They are estimated to be from 350,000 years ago and were made by members of the genus Homo – that is, the one to which we belong.

One of the researchers involved in studying the footprints, Dr. Paolo Mietto, said that “Finding the footprints was a shocking experience - an astounding experience” (according to an article from the BBC).  Imagine being involved in a finding of this enormity – my imagination can’t even grasp it.

Whenever I’ve been asked when I’d time travel to (a question that comes up fairly often over beer at the campus pub) I’ve been fairly flippant and said “To see the original lineup of Pink Floyd” or something similar. But in reality, I’d love to meet our bipedal ancestors. How did they think? Would we be able to communicate in some way? Would we recognize each other as relatives? I imagine it would be completely fascinating.

The error Fooot* appears 122 times in Worldcat.

Leanne Olson

(Generic footprint image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. For a picture of the actual footprints, see BBC news.)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Frankenstien (for Frankenstein)

Today is the anniversary of the publication of what many consider to be the first science fiction novel: Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. Why yes, I am nerdy enough that I use the full title – and don’t go doing your best Boris Karloff impersonation and calling yourself Frankenstein around me.  That’s Frankenstein’s Monster.  Victor Frankenstein was the name of the man who created him, not the reanimated man himself.

That’s what really hit home for me on a recent reread--the poor reanimated guy never even got a real name.  I wonder what he would have called himself?  Personally, I like to go with Eugene.  It seems like a nice intellectual name to me, as the “monster” in the book is actually quite smart and philosophical, reading books such as Paradise Lost and musing on his own situation.

Shelley herself experienced quite a bit of sadness, so it’s no wonder she wrote such a lonely tale.  Only one of her four children lived, and Frankenstein was written after the death of her daughter Clara, who only lived 11 days.

Frankenstien is a low probability typo that occurs just over 30 times in Worldcat.

Leanne Olson

(Illustration from the revised edition of Frankenstein by Theodore Von Holst, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Saskatchaw* (Saskatchew*)

Daylight Savings Time is kicking me in the face this week – walking to work in the dark is no fun at all, particularly when I can’t see the icy sidewalk beneath my feet. Fortunately, a total klutz like me has learned to fall quite well, and never onto my piano fingers (my poor left pinkie and ring finger still have not recovered from a childhood incident of tripping over my Golden Retriever…while she was sleeping).

So as I was cursing DST, I browsed the Wikipedia fantasizing about where I’d move to that doesn’t follow this abhorrent practice. Today’s featured word, Saskatchewan, would be the obvious choice, since I live in Canada. But going a little more exotic (and warmer) there’s the Maldives, Indonesia, Saint Lucia, and Tanzania, among many others, who have never followed DST.

 A few of the exceptions to regular practice are quite interesting: some countries stop DST during Ramadan (Morocco and Egypt, for example), and others gave it a try for a year or two and didn’t continue the practice (Colombia, Madagascar, India). Malta observed DST in 1916-1920, 1940-1948 and since 1966. This makes me glad I don’t have a job with a lot of international conference calls: I get confused enough about time zones as it is!

Saskatchaw* is one of our lowest probability typos, even though I made the error twice myself while typing this entry (once while typing Saskatchewan, and then again while trying to fix it, sigh). It occurs 37 times in WorldCat.

If you love seasonal trivia, also check out Carol’s post on the origins of DST (who knew it was WWI-related?) from 2012.

Leanne Olson

(Map of Canada with Saskatchewan highlighted by user Qyd, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Friday, March 6, 2015

Togete* (for Together*)

I was watching Togetherness the other night, a couples-oriented dramedy on HBO. I also happen to be an inveterate credits watcher and was duly rewarded in this habit when I spied the name of the show's costume designer: Mynka Draper. Perfect! Edith Head had a great name too, but not quite as on the nose, so to speak, as this one is. Draper's got one of those nomen est omen names, the kind that puts you in mind of the possessor's profession—although I doubt she's known for swaddling her clients in politically incorrect furs. I attempted to figure out if this was her given name or a behind-the-stage name, if you will, but all I could determine (thanks to the New York Times) was that her "alternate name" is Minka Draper, which only makes it that much better. Our typo today turned up ten times in OhioLINK (about half of which look like early variant spellings, some records noting this fact with a "sic"), and 149 times in WorldCat.

(Mink coat, DDR, 1954, posted February 26, 2011, Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Grammm* (for Grammar, etc.)

Today is National Grammar Day and to celebrate, the American Society of Copyeditors hosted a haiku-writing contest on Twitter. In an odd coincidence (before any of us realized the import of the date), my supervisor and another coworker were debating whether or not microfiches was an acceptable form of the plural. The latter felt it was sort of akin to deer/deers and fish/fishes. He added that one need only include an s or es when talking about different species of deer, fish, etc., but after doing a little digging, it seems it might be a bit more complicated than that. In any event, and in light of our little talk, my favorite grammar haiku naturally had to be the one that read: One deer, two deer, three, / Haiku is singular and / Are also plural. That is, until I saw: Show us on this doll / Where the copy editor / Punctuated you. As well as: Oh, if I were not / In a rare subjunctive mood, / I would wish I were. Truly, they're all wonderful, and I suggest you try your own hand at writing one. Here's mine: Composing this poem / Comprising only three lines / Points to my pet peeve. There were 13 cases of today's typo found in OhioLINK, and 315 in WorldCat.

(Dedication to Nymphe, protectress of marriage, Google Art Project, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid